Situated on more than 100 acres, Gathering Place is a one-of-a-kind riverside destination. The beautifully landscaped area runs alongside Riverside Drive in Tulsa, Oklahoma just minutes from downtown. The public park features a magical playground for children, walking trails, gardens, boat rentals, restaurants, and venues for events educational activities. Let’s explore the history of the park and the top things for visitors to do.
History of Gathering Place
The dream of a huge public outdoor space in Tulsa to promote the love of community and a place for friends and family to gather began with the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The space would span around 100 acres alongside the city’s scenic Arkansas Riverfront. Tulsans would have a place to celebrate diversity, appreciate nature, explore, and learn with no admission fee.
Years of planning began. Donations and input from the community started pouring in. Finally, in 2014, a groundbreaking ceremony took place for a dynamic and welcoming space with an exciting and promising future.
The Gathering Place’s first guests arrived on a beautiful day in early September. Adventures and experiences began that would continue for generations of families, children, and friends. Today, guests come from every corner of Tulsa and beyond to carry on the tradition of unity and spirit that the George Kaiser Family Foundation began.
The multifaceted Chapman Adventure Playground for kids is the heart of the Gathering Place. It encompasses five acres and is divided into multigenerational realms that children of all ages and adults find fun and fascinating. Overall, it features towers, tunnels, pirate ships, and more.
In keeping with the original planners’ dedication to diversity, the activities in the park are designed to engage children of differing development levels and abilities. Each area is easy to access from the ground level with clear paths and sloping ramps making the transfer between realms easy.
Children can develop their imaginations safely in the park’s sand play area with a sandbox on the lower tier surrounded by wooden boats and playhouses. One of the playhouses is on the ground level so that it’s easy to access for mobility-impaired guests.
Fairyland Forest will spark creativity in guests of all ages with a boardwalk that accesses each area for easy transition. In the River Giants realm, children can climb in the cradle swings, climb a Paddlefish, and zip down the Blue Heron slides with accommodations for the mobility-impaired.
One of the Gathering Place’s most iconic features is the Spiral Connector and Towers. This series of climbing structures, slides, and suspension bridges encourage physical play and stimulate the imagination. For toddlers, the Volcanoville realm provides safe fun with low-level climbing elements.
Other Things to Do
The ONEOK Boathouse is a favorite spot at the Gathering Place. Guests can take a paddleboat from the boathouse out to Peggy’s Pond for fun on the water. Canoes and kayaks are also available for rent. The paddleboat rides are free. Before or after the paddleboat ride, the boathouse’s uppermost level provides a place to stop and admire the views of Downtown Tulsa and the Arkansas River. Relax on the outdoor terraces or dine in the enclosed restaurant.
Bike riders, walkers, and joggers can enjoy a three-mile-long tree-lined concrete route on Tulsa’s Midland Valley Trail that passes through the park and is adjacent to downtown. The trail connects with the River Parks trail system and is well maintained with drinking fountains, a rest area, trash receptacles, lighting, and signage.
Events at the Gathering Place Park
During the year, the park plays host to lots of great cultural events, educational programs, movies, concerts, and other occasions. Guests come for food festivals, children’s story times, family walks, sporting events, and more, all of which are free to attend.
Tulsans looking for a place to hold special events will find it here. They book venues like the ONEOK Boat House and Gathering Room in Williams Lodge. Both indoor and outdoor settings fit all occasions from holiday parties to birthday parties and corporate events. And for the most intimate celebrations including weddings, guests can book The Dock or Sky Garden to create unforgettable memories. You can also visit another one of Tulsa’s awesome parks.